With its primary function to grind food waste into small particles, a garbage disposal can sometimes become clogged, particularly in a double sink setup. This can lead to the unpleasant scenario of standing water that refuses to drain completely.
Picture this: you’re eager to clean up after a hefty meal but the sight of murky water in your sink due to a clogged garbage disposal is certainly a mood dampener.
Now, wouldn’t it be handy to know how to unclog this garbage disposal drain all by yourself?
Stay tuned as we take you through simple steps to tackle this common household problem, and get your sink draining smoothly again.
What Does Standing Water Mean?
In a setting where standing water is present in your sink, it’s usually a clear indication that something is stuck in the drain and needs to be removed. The culprit is often a collection of food scraps that your garbage disposal wasn’t able to break down completely. These materials accumulate over time, forming a plug that obstructs the sink drain.
This blockage prevents the water from draining properly, causing it to stand idle in your sink. Clearing the blockage should restore the regular flow of water out of the sink.
What Causes a Garbage Disposal to Become Clogged with Standing Water?
To get even better insight into what causes your garbage disposal to become clogged with standing water, it’s essential to understand the most common sources of blockage. Generally, not all food waste is fit for your garbage disposal. Some materials are harder for the system to break down and can contribute to a clogged drain. Here are some common culprits:
- Coffee Grounds: While they may initially appear to wash down the drain smoothly, coffee grounds can accumulate in the pipes over time, leading to clogs.
- Food Particles: Large food particles or a high volume of food waste can overwhelm your garbage disposal’s grinding capacity, causing a bottleneck in the kitchen sink drain.
- Starchy or Fibrous Food Waste: Certain foods like potato peels, celery, or banana peels can create stubborn clogs due to their fibrous or starchy nature. They can wrap around the disposal blades, reducing their effectiveness and leading to a backlog in the drain.
- Non-food Items: Sometimes, items that are not meant to be in the garbage disposal, like utensils, sponges, or plastic wrappers, can find their way in, causing immediate clogs.
4 Easy Ways to Unclog Garbage Disposal With Standing Water
Remove the P-Trap
The P-trap, also known as the drain trap, is a U-shaped pipe that connects the garbage disposal unit to the main drain pipes.
Here are the steps to remove the P-trap:
- Prepare the Area: Place a bucket under the P-trap to catch any residual water in the drain pipes.
- Disconnect the P-Trap: Locate the connecting nuts on either side of the P-Trap. Using a wrench (Allen wrench or hex wrench), gently loosen and remove these nuts. This will disconnect the P-trap from the trap arm and garbage disposal unit.
- Clear the P-Trap: Check inside the P-trap for any obstructions and remove them.
- Inspect the Trap Arm: With the P-trap removed, inspect the trap arm leading to the wall for any blockages. If seen, use a drain snake or a coat hanger to remove them.
- Reinstall the P-Trap: Once cleared, reinstall the P-Trap, ensuring that all connections are firm and secure.
Use Baking Soda and Boiling Water
Another way to unclog a garbage disposal is through a natural cleaner approach using baking soda and boiling water. This method is particularly useful when dealing with grease or food particle build-up.
Here are the steps:
- Turn off the garbage disposal: Always ensure safety first by turning off your garbage disposal before proceeding.
- Remove any standing water: If there’s standing water in the sink, try scooping it out as much as possible.
- Apply baking soda: Pour half a cup of baking soda directly into the garbage disposal drain. Baking soda is a natural cleaner and it helps in breaking down the clog.
- Pour boiling water: Pour hot water slowly into the disposal on top of the baking soda. The heat and effervescence of the mixture will help to break down the blockage.
- Wait and rinse: Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes. This gives it time to work on dissolving the clog.
- Flush it out: Pour hot water again to flush out the remaining baking soda and any broken-down blockage. The clog should be cleared and water should drain smoothly.
Keep in mind that this method is not just about unclogging, but also about cleaning and deodorizing your garbage disposals. It’s an eco-friendly and safe way to maintain your kitchen plumbing.
Use a Drain Snake
A very useful tool to have on hand for dealing with garbage disposal clogs is a drain snake, also known as a plumber’s snake. This tool is particularly efficient at removing stubborn blockages in a double kitchen sink setup.
The process of using a drain snake is as follows:
- Remove the drain stopper: Begin by removing the drain stopper from your sink. This will provide the necessary access to your drain.
- Insert the drain snake: Carefully insert the end of the drain snake down the sink drain. The snake is flexible and should easily move through the pipes.
- Twist and push: Once the snake has been inserted, begin to twist and push it further into the drain. This action will help to dislodge any foreign objects or hardened food residue that may be contributing to the clog.
- Retrieve the snake: After you’ve twisted and pushed the snake, begin to slowly pull it back up. The clog or foreign object should come up with it.
- Inspect the garbage disposal: After removing the clog, turn on the water to see if the blockage has been completely cleared. If not, you may need to repeat the process or use an alternative method.
- Care for the disposal’s blade: It’s essential to maintain the disposal’s blade by routinely freeing it of any possible blockages. Turn off the disposal and use a flashlight to inspect for any remaining debris. Be cautious and use a tool or utensil to remove any visible remnants – never use your hand.
Remember that while many garbage disposals are sturdy and can handle a lot, they aren’t immune to wear and tear. Regularly using a drain snake or other unclogging methods can help prolong the lifespan of your disposal unit and keep your kitchen sink draining smoothly.
Use Pliers to Remove Clogged Items
Now for a more straightforward method – simply using pliers to remove clogged items. This method requires careful handling to avoid damaging your disposal’s blades.
- First, turn off the power to the disposal to ensure safety.
- Then, with the help of a flashlight, identify the blockage in the drain.
- Using pliers, carefully extract the obstructing object. Be sure not to force or drop anything further into the drain.
- After removing the item, run warm water to clear any residual debris.
Call a Professional for Help
Garbage disposals play a crucial role in keeping your kitchen clean and odor-free. Neglecting them can lead to major plumbing issues, such as overflowing sinks or damaged pipes. Make sure to follow these simple guidelines for unclogging your garbage disposal to keep it in good condition.
If the problem persists, it may be time to call a professional for help. Professional plumbers have experience with all types of clogs and can accurately assess any issues with your disposal unit. This way, you can ensure that the problem is taken care of properly and your disposal is back in working order.
At P&L Plumbing we specialize in garbage disposal repairs and maintenance. From unclogging to installation, we have the knowledge and expertise to handle all your residential plumbing needs.
Contact us today for a free estimate on our services!